Lehigh Valley

Hotel developer wants OK to build restaurant

Upper Saucon officials receptive to stand-alone...

UPPER SAUCON TWP., Pa. - The developer behind a hotel at Route 309 and Center Valley Parkway is asking Upper Saucon Township officials for permission to also build a restaurant.

Joe Fitzpatrick, an attorney representing hotel developer High Hotels Ltd., on Monday floated the idea of a restaurant to be build near the proposed Marriott Springhill Suites near the Stabler Center. He also asked township supervisors for permission to expand parking space for buses and large cars.

Fitzpatrick asked the township for permission to build an office building on the property, noting it would be a placeholder for a possible future restaurant. Current township zoning laws allow two uses on the 9-acre property, but a standalone restaurant is not one of them, he said.

The developer was hoping to use office space as a placeholder, while working on gaining board approval to build a restaurant, Fitzpatrick said.

Kevin Hornbeck, a representative with High Hotels, said more than half the company's current hotels feature a standalone restaurant in the vicinity, which drove up occupancy rates because hotel patrons were willing to pay for the convenience of being able to arrive, check-in and get something to eat.

Supervisors asked Hornbeck why a restaurant wasn’t proposed within the hotel. The hotel chain’s success, as well as other successful hotels, follow similar models and that their plans simply don’t allow for restaurants to be built within the hotel itself, Hornbeck said.

Supervisors' Chairman Stephen Wagner said he considered the request reasonable and that the developers could come back within a year with blueprints for a restaurant. In the meantime, the board could work on amending the township's zoning laws to allow such a use, he said.

But for the time being it's important that the board complies with current zoning rules on the property's use, Wagner said. He said the board doesn’t want to risk creating a new use that could prove to be unpopular with the public and conflict with township zoning, he said.

Supervisor Philip Spaeth agreed, asking the board to informally ask the township's Department of Community Development to amend current zoning ordinances that could allow developers to build a restaurant. It made sense to have enterprise properties build restaurants, if they so choose, he said.

The board agreed that such restaurants could help business along Center Valley Parkway, but were careful to say they didn’t want a bunch of fast food restaurants to spring up and would consider that when creating future ordinances.

In terms of parking, Fitzpatrick said the developer hoped to create over-sized spaces to allow buses to park at the hotel.

The board voted unanimously to grant High Hotels permission to build the office space and allow for bus parking.

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